Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Some Facts to Ponder!!

This list is awesome...

1. In an average lifetime, a woman will consume six pounds of lipstick. - San Diego Union, 4/25/06

2. Americans spent $14,300,000,000 on dog food in 2004. That's $10,000,000,000 more than on baby food the same year. - The Week Magazine, 3/10/06

3. India is racing to complete a spacecraft for moon orbit next year. Its space agency employs more people than NASA. - KTLA Los Angeles, 2/12/06

4. A Malaysian man received a $218,000,000,000,000 phone bill and was ordered to pay up within 10 days or face prosecution. - MSNBC, 4/10/06

5. 5 of the United States have more gun dealers than gas stations. - Time, 3/27/06

6. U.S. airlines last year lost about 10,000 bags a day on average. - USA Today, 2/16/06

7. Starbucks says China is their #1 growth market. At $6 a cup, the coffee costs more than the average Chinese worker earns in a day. -, 2/14/06

8. A 150 watt personal computer left on continuously for a year consumes the electricity equivalent of 100 gallons of oil. - San Diego Union, 12/28/05

9. Cell phone ringtones generate 2 billion dollars in annual income for the music industry. - Fortune Magazine, 12/12/05

10. A Santiago, Chile restaurant named "Car Crash" had to close temporarily because a car crashed into it. - Seattle Times, 7/28/05

11. An Ohio business man spent over a half million dollars opening a sports bar before realizing it is located in a district that prohibits the sale of alcohol. - 19 Action News, 12/11/05

12. Stephen Crawford recently resigned as co-President of Morgan Stanley. He was on the job for 15 weeks, and was paid $32,000,000. Assuming he worked seven days a week, sixteen hours a day, he still made $19,000 per hour. - Business Week, 7/11/05

13. If you brew your own coffee instead of purchasing a $3 latte each day, you would have $55,341 after 30 years (calculation includes interest). - Motley Fool, 6/21/05

14. A 24-hour suicide hot line in Canada will only be open between 9 am and 5 pm on weekdays because of budget cuts. - Houston Chronicle, 5/27/05

15. Wal-Mart's profit in 2004 were $20,000 per minute. - New York Times, 2/27/05

16. 28% of all Medicare costs are spent in the last year of a person's life. - National Center for Policy Analysis, 8/02

17. Approximately 240,000 manhole and street drain covers were stolen in Beijing, China in 2004. - CNN, 3/15/05

18. Each and every day, Saudi Arabia receives $500,000,000 from oil-consuming nations, including almost $100,000,000 from the United States. - The Week Magazine, 3/17/06

19. Gillette will be coming out with a razor with five blades in 2006. The "Fusion" will best its own Mach 3 and Schick's Quattro. - Newsweek, 9/26/05

20. According to a recent study, birds prefer their droppings to be on white cars. - WFMY News 2, 6/29/05

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Decision Trap!

What is constant? No i am not getting into some phisophical thought about human existence and all that. But seriously...what is that one thing which is constant? Our ability to make a decision everyday. I am not talking about the correctness of the decisions we make, but simply the fact that we make decisions. Even, if we do not want to make a decision, it is a decision in itself. Looking at it another way, you may choose not to take a decision everyday, but you will be met with situations (both simple and complex) where you are expected to take a decision. We all wake up every single day knowing fully well that we will have to face such situations.After all, no one likes to be indecisive.

So how to make decisions? How do you know whether you have taken the right decision or otherwise? No, I'm not repeating Robert Frost. I read an interesting note somewhere that the human mind applies different techniques when it comes to making decisions. There are different rules when it comes to taking decisions amidst simple and complex situations. Let me explain.

If you are buying a mobile phone or a laptop (simple decisions), you will use a highly rational and researched approach. You will engage in thorough conscious deliberation before choosing.

If you are buying a new home or say, you are trying to get married (complex decisions), research has found out that a new technique called "deliberation without attention" works well for such situations. This is more of a "follow your gut" decision than any well-thought-out decision.

So when do you choose to apply "delibration without attention" and when do you take a highly researched decision? For relatively simple decisions, it is better to use a highly rational and researched approach. However, when making a complicated decision, the unconscious in each of us appears to do a better job of resolving factors and making a sound conclusion.

No, this is not a pop psychology and I'm sure many of us will not agree to the stated hypothesis. It's worth a try, nonetheless.

Now that you have taken a decision, how do you ensure that others don't judge you for your decisions. Here is a list of rationalizations you can hide behind; anyday. You can even call your decisions ethical - my favorite, of course. Here is the list. So next time, when you take a questionable decision, rationalize it by choosing one of the following.

  1. If It's Necessary, It's Ethical

  2. The False Necessity Trap (Necessity is an interpretation, not a fact)

  3. If It's Legal and Permissible, It's Proper

  4. It's Just Part of the Job

  5. It's All for a Good Cause

  6. I Was Just Doing It for You

  7. I'm Just Fighting Fire With Fire

  8. It Doesn't Hurt Anyone

  9. Everyone's Doing It

  10. It's OK if I Don't Gain Personally

  11. I Can Still Be Objective

  12. I Did It For Us

Your life will be so easy when you apply these techniques. I haven't yet. But if it works for any one of you, you know how to reach me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The other side of darkness

Ok, so we know that stuff kills. Gone are the days when you can talk about having smoked pot, popped and snorted LOTS of pills, speed, E, took some acid, shrooms, alcohol ...

So you think drugs are bad? But that is a sweeping generalization. There are recreational drugs and there are hard drugs. And of course, we also have prescription drugs. Taking any drug runs a risk of harm. Anything in excess is bad. But there are some drugs that no one should touch, like cocain, crack or heroin. Leaving these drugs apart, the world is filled with several recreational and prescription drugs which when taken in excess can leave you as a different person. Even some of the legal prescribed drugs can make you addictive and wasted. How do you know which one is more dangerous than the other?

So why are we talking about this? In this world, no amount of policing will ever stop the illegal drugs trade. It is just not possible. Worldwide, this is an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars. No matter how many arrests are made, this trade can never be stopped. The amount of money involved is too tempting for anyone. All the gatekeepers (police, customs, politicians) get bribed; no one can stand in the way of that much money. The best we can do is redirect it to a least harmful route. Legitimize it. Bring it out in the open, regulate it, license it & tax it.

In my perfect world, a lot of things would be legal, including all drugs and prostitution.

I don't think it's been mentioned, though it might've been, but legalizing all drugs, including heroin, crack, coke, ice etc. has amazing health benefits for the addicts. Right now, someone's in a dark alley somewhere shooting heroin, with a point that's been used by four different people. Right now, a heroin addict is contracting HIV because of unsanitary conditions, not to mention pumping their veins with bathtub cleaner. People die from badly cut drugs and AIDS every day.

If all drugs were legal, and doctors were able to regulate each person's drug use and how pure the drug was, things would be a lot safer.

And the harder drugs aren't the only ones being cut with unsafe chemicals. Ask any weed smoker and they will tell you that it was mixed with something. I'm sure the majority of herb smokers know that you can even request weed sprinkled in coke, or others. God only knows where the coke and pills are coming from, and whether that's what's really on the weed. Even pot isn't safe anymore, especially with the younger buyers who get ripped off more easily.

Weed sold over the counter like cigarettes wouldn't have this issue.

To me, you can't stop people from wanting to alter their consciousness, that's just the way it is. Right now, drugs are illegal and as dangerous as they've ever been, for addicts and users of all ages. And if drugs were legal, I have a feeling the amount of people addicted to harder drugs would be lowered as well.

Legalizing drugs would also take care of the "naughty" factor, and I think less number of people would get into them, but that's not a proven fact or anything.

You won't ever get rid of drugs, so the governments around the world may as well embrace and tax the living hell out of them.

Friday, June 09, 2006

My Family Treasure

Hmm....last night i was sitting up late and reading a book. I have this bad habit of reading some weird stuff in the night..things like occult science, black magic,metaphysics,quasi quantum models, erotic sex...anything and everthing that is usually not meant for reading in the nights...and there i was completely into the book when my mom came across to my room and said something that kind of shocked my life...

While I was lost in my thoughts, my mom walked in. It is very unusual for my mom to walk in so late in the night and talk to me. She sat near me and put her hand on my shoulder.She said "Son, I have a family secret that I want to tell you ...".

The moment those words came out of her mouth, my whole senses became attentive. I listened. She then stood up and walked the room calmly for about couple of minutes. They looked longer to me. Then she began."For years, our family has preserved a secret. But time has come to pass on this secret to you. We have been the keepers of a major treasure. A treasure so big that big powers will go to fight each other. A treasure so valuable that one will not think twice about killing the keeper. It's time, my son. I want to pass on the treasure to you and your generations forward. ""But mom ... is this really true?""Yes, it is. Why don't you walk with me?"After a little walk, she then showed me a huge iron crest. It was truly rusted. She struggled a little bit and i helped her open it with a huge heave.I then finally managed to pull the lid up.
There it was .. the treasure I have never heard of until an hour ago. Now it belongs to me. I curiously looked into it and to my surprise saw wads and wads of currency notes, lower denominations but large number of notes. All in the currency I want. I turned around and asked my mom ..."So how much is it?""Well, my son .. it enough to take care of 5 generations.""And you
are telling me that it's all mine? " "Yes my son. I was waiting for this day. Now it rightfully belongs to you. "

"Thanks mom. Thanks for everything. "

Well, now I have all this money ... what do I do? Live it up. This year onwards, life is gonna be so different. Time to buy a few cars. May be an isolated bungalow with a jacuzzi fit right next to the bath tub. May be I should live in a different country. How about a little philanthropy? What? home loans? Mortgaging? 2%? 15%? Floating? Fixed? You kidding me?. May be I will call my
friends and find out what they want. It would be a good idea to build a township. Why not buy some property in the Moon? In Mars? Hey, may be I will produce some movies and make more money. Politics? Sure why not?
"Knock Knock"

"Who is it"

"It is 10'o clock in the morning. Wake up. Time to go to office" says my mom!

"You mean that was a dream?That Iron Crest, Those currency notes..was all that merely a dream?"

"Which currency notes?Iron Crest? By the way, there is no electricity supply from the morning. So you need to take bath in the cold water(if u wanna bath that is)."


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Friends, Best Friends and Close Friends

I often hear people calling some of their friends as close friends, best friends and all that. For instance, how many times have we called foo** is my best friend and bar** is my close friend and all that. I have always wondered how best is best and how close is close. Recently, i met with a friend of mine and we were having a conversation on this subject. Not that either of us were psychologists or cognitive science experts, but nevertheless we needed to kill time and what better way to kill time than bitching abt people and their opinions.After about an hour or so of terms like "lets take the following scenario", "consider this" and "consider that", we started summarizing about what we understood on this subject....that usually people choose to have/form friends based on their perception of what is known as their circle of trust henceforth being referred as COT here. A COT is basically a set of like minded people doing similar things. For instance, you might not wish to invite your manager for a movie with your college friends. Neither, would you invite your family members to a pub with your other friends. So the idea is a common belief(or disbelief) in doing certain things in certain ways. On the other hand, you cannot invite your college friend for a team lunch in your company. Neither can you invite ur friend to a family function dinner.

The first thing to note is that we don't have one COT. We form many. Strange as it sounds, it is true so as to support the varied activities in one's life(going to pub, watching a movie, having a team lunch, family dinner etc....). This needs to be explained. Let's understand this through an example....

My friend with whom i was conversing is 24 years. She has formed several circles of trust.How does she develop and manage so many circles? I was curious and i asked her. Her reply was spontaneous and deep. So she says, she has at least 4-6 friends in each of the circle. They are not exclusive though. Some friends are present in more than one COT while others are strictly confined to just one. The circles of trust are merely logical and none of the participants (read "friends") know that they exist. Only she knows. And she plays the circles of trust to her benefit. Then comes the obvious question. How does she differentiate once circle from another? Here lies the beauty....

Every circle of trust (COT) has a set responsibility.The responsibility is sometimes implicit while in other cases, my friend takes the responsibility of assigning the responsibility to the COT.In our case, She has pre-assigned these responsibilities to the COTs and she invokes them when the need arises. This needs to be explained again. We have simplified the functions so that it is easy to understand. Here it comes .. in her own words ...

~ So when I feel like spending an evening by having a cup of coffee, I will invoke the services of COT #1.

~ Wanna watch a movie? That would be COT #2.

~ Oh I met this wonderful guy! I want to talk about him .. The listening pleasures are reserved to COT #3.

~ I'm so drunk. I want to be dropped home. Time to call COT #4.

~ I feel like bitching and complaining the whole day. Need COT #5.

~ I'm feeling low. Feel like crap. Time for some wallowing in self-pity and more. Think I'm lost and eventually slipping into a major depression. Desperately want COT #6.

~ I'm so high today. Everything around me is upbeat. I definitely need to be with COT #7.

~ So I wake up with a strong feeling to travel to some place quite mystical .. I will choose the company of COT #8.

So you see, the whole list is *morally* ambiguous. I used the term morally coz it may not be too immoral according to my friend. The concept of friendship is very superficial and the role you play in her life through these COTs defines who you are for her. I also realized that it is from one of these COTs that the notions of best friend and close friend stem from.Some "friends" over a period of time, come to know of her grand design and they refuse to be placed in certain COTs. So they leave. She and she alone can determine who gets placed in what COTs. Really, it is a matter of what her heart tells her than any planned analysis of someone's abilities.

From all these, one can easily look around and map your "friends" into circles of trust. You are either playing someone into a COT or someone is playing you. As simple as that. So the next time someone calls you his/her best friend just try to see if which COT of his/her do ou fit it. As they say.."Life moves on"...Enjoy the ride.